How to Know Christian or Non-Christian

Question: What’s the main difference between a believer in Jesus and an unbeliever, or a Christian and a non-Christian?

Answer: The Scriptures define a true believer as one who forsakes sin and follows Jesus in obedience, and it defines unbelievers as those still walking in sin who do not obey the Lord (See 1 John 1, 2, & 3; Rom 6 & 8; Eph 4:17-32; Tit 2:11-14; Luke 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Rom 2:6-8; etc.)

This was the gist of a question that was asked on Twitter (social media) by a fellow Tweeter, and this is the response the Lord led me to give to him. But then the Lord encouraged me to expand on that answer here because it is a legitimate question, and not everyone knows the answer. But where we get our answer to that question is in the Scriptures, in their context, not in one or two select verses taken out of their context.

The Answer is in The Scriptures

So, let’s start with Romans 6. If we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith we are crucified with Christ in death to sin and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would NO LONGER be enslaved (addicted) to sin. So, we are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, we are to no longer allow sin to reign in our mortal bodies, to make us obey its passions. For sin shall have no dominion over us since we have been saved by God’s grace. And then we need to know this, that we are slaves to whom we obey, either of SIN, which leads to DEATH, or of OBEDIENCE, which leads to righteousness, and to sanctification, which then ENDS IN ETERNAL LIFE with God.

And then let’s look at Romans 8. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh for sin, God the Father condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, WHO WALK NOT ACCORDING TO THE FLESH BUT ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT. For those who live according to the flesh set their mind on the things of the flesh, and to set the mind on the flesh is DEATH, but to set the mind on the Spirit is LIFE and peace.

So, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if we live according to the flesh, WE WILL DIE, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh, YOU WILL LIVE. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are God’s children. And if we are being led by the Spirit that means that we are following the Spirit, and to follow means to OBEY.

And then let’s look at Ephesians 4. There we learn that we must NO LONGER WALK (in conduct, in practice) as the ungodly do, giving ourselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. For the truth that is in Christ Jesus instructs us to “PUT OFF your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to PUT ON the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:17-24).

Then let’s look at Titus 2. God’s grace, which brings salvation, trains (teaches, instructs, commands) us to RENOUNCE (say “NO” to) ungodliness and worldly passions, and TO LIVE self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return. For Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (See Titus 2:11-14).

Then, let’s look at what Jesus said in Luke 9:23-26. He said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self and take up our cross daily (DAILY DIE TO SIN) and follow (OBEY) him. For if we would save our lives (hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self) we will lose them, but if we lose our lives for Jesus’ sake (die with him to sin), we will save our lives, i.e. we will have eternal life with God. But if we are ashamed of Jesus and of his gospel, he will be ashamed of us when he returns.

And let’s look at Galatians 5. It says if we WALK (in conduct, in practice) by the Spirit, we will NOT GRATIFY the desires of the flesh, and to walk by the Spirit involves forsaking our sins and walking in obedience to our Lord. And then it talks about the WORKS OF THE FLESH which include sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, drunkenness, orgies, etc. And then we are warned that if we PRACTICE such things that we WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

And here is Romans 2:6-8 ESV: “He will render to each one ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give ETERNAL LIFE; but for those who are self-seeking and DO NOT OBEY THE TRUTH, but obey unrighteousness, there will be WRATH AND FURY.

And now we will look at 1 John 1,2,&3. 1 John 1 says if we say we have fellowship (intimacy in relationship) with God while we WALK (in conduct, in practice) in DARKNESS (sin, wickedness), we LIE and do not practice the truth. But if we WALK in the LIGHT (Jesus, truth, righteousness) the blood of Jesus CLEANSES US from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, but if we confess (have the same mind as God about) our sin, which requires repentance and obedience, then God forgives our sins.

1 John 2 says, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, IF WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does NOT KEEP his commandments IS A LIAR, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected” (1 John 2:3-5). This means that if you do not obey the commandments of God (New Covenant) as a matter of practice, you DON’T KNOW HIM.

And lastly, 1 John 3 says that everyone who makes a PRACTICE OF SINNING also practices lawlessness. No one who abides in Christ KEEPS ON SINNING (as a matter of practice). But whoever practices RIGHTEOUSNESS is righteous as Christ is righteous. Whoever practices sinning (habitually, addictively) is of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice (habit) of sinning. See 1 John 3:4-10.

Putting it All Together

Now, if you put that all together as one complete picture of our salvation from sin you should be able to see clearly what I stated in the beginning of this which is that “The Scriptures define a true believer as one who forsakes sin and follows Jesus in obedience, and it defines unbelievers as those still walking in sin who do not obey the Lord.” And here are some of the same and some additional Scriptures to consider, as well, on this subject:

[Jn 8:31-32; Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 11:17-24; 1 Co 15:2; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; 2 Pet 1:1-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 1 Jn 2:24-25; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

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